Recently we had a group of friends over for a retro ‘Whist drive’. My husband, who grew up in the Midlands in the 70s, felt that our friends would just love such an evening! They did, we did. After a few rounds we sat at the table and the banter was flowing. Someone asked my husband about how content he felt and he joked that he was living his best life. Without hesitation and a wiggle of the hips I pointed out being married to me how could he not be. The room exploded with laughter, not sure how really to take this if I’m honest! The phrase tripped off his tongue in a jokey way but it has really got me thinking. I feel, for me, a sense of belonging and connection is an essential part of living. That evening I felt it.
Last June I was invited to come along on the Ignite weekend away and headed quite happily with three of my four boys. Really not knowing what to expect I did begin to get a little nervous when a number of people started telling me I was very brave. Oblivious to what lay ahead I happily loaded up the car and drove to Durrow. Those same people who called me brave now refer to my “Durrow moment”. So many things came together for me on that weekend.
From the moment we arrived each one of the family felt part of the group in spite of our ‘newbie’ status. One son saw his name on the roster for serving food that evening and embraced this challenge with the enthusiasm I would not have expected from a mid-teen. He and my youngest son hopped out of bed each of the mornings to join others for an early morning jog. They were welcomed and encouraged and felt part of that little group. It was watching my twins being part of a drama acting out the parable of the Prodigal son that I appreciated the relevance of the parable for me. I felt, as my son (aka eldest son in the parable!) threw a chair in rage, I understood this parable for the first time in my life despite the multiple times I had heard it before. The injustice and unfairness of it all for him and the ‘all about him’ trap that we can all fall into is such a good lesson for me.
The weekend contained so many wonderful moments for me – I felt accepted in the midst of a diverse group of people, with a great sense of fun and with whom I belonged. But what truly made the weekend special personally for me was the clear way in which I felt God communicated with me. I was supported by others in prayer and encouragement. I felt that Tim Silk, who led many of our teaching sessions, understood my situation and the challenges I was facing, even though I had not verbalised them in any great way. His words seemed to be tailored for me and meant for my situation, I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I felt a calmness in my core that assures me to this day: God is always with me.
Being a Christian has developed for me in a way that fills me with joy, love, gratitude and a desire to serve God. There will be challenges ahead, but with the help of God I can face these challenges with enthusiasm and hope. Belonging to a Church that supports, encourages me, accepts me as I am and affords me the opportunity to belt out songs on a Sunday morning is what it’s all about for me. Living my best life!